Visit some of the most popular tourist and restaurant sites around Maryland, and you’re sure to spy on someone wearing a Natty Boh tee shirt. National Bohemian Beer, colloquially "Natty Boh," is an American beer originally brewed in Baltimore, Maryland, but now owned by the Pabst Brewing Company. Mr. Boh, the company’s handlebar-mustachioed man icon, is a symbol of Maryland’s illustrious brewing and distilling history.
Maryland was known for its rye whiskey and rum during colonial times. Rum was the first spirit ever distilled in Maryland back in the 1600s. According to the Maryland Distiller’s Guild President Jaime Windon, prior to Prohibition, the Old Line State produced the fifth-most alcohol in the county.
Entrepreneurs Magazine’s website listed the rise of craft distilleries as one of the top food and beverage trends for 2014. According to the Brewers Association, craft brewers sold more than 13 million barrels of beer in 2013, a 15 percent increase from 2011. Fueled by growing markets for all–things local from cheese to meats, to veggies, consumer demand is now seeking out craft brands of spirits.
But craft distilling and specialty brewing are about more than just expanding market shares behind the bar. These operations can offer tasting rooms and gift shops and are becoming tourism destinations in the process. Fostering jobs, supporting local agriculture, and expanding tourism spending can make this old industry new again in Maryland.